Rhinoplasty: a crime against nature

Say what you will about the Iranians.  It might be so that many of them are Islamic fanatics.  That they can be temperamental – there is probably some truth to that as well.  But why is it that so many of them are dissatisfied with their own natural look?  Yes, it is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But I, for one, find Iranians to be quite attractive people overall.  Their women are famous for their beauty, and yet Iran is the epicenter of a rhinoplasty  craze.
There is much to be said about prominent, aquiline noses – especially in the Middle East.  Conventional theory tells us that large noses evolved in arid regions so that they could warm cold air before it enters the lungs.  I don’t buy it.  To me, it is obvious that some ancient peoples simply found large noses to be attractive and here we have a case of sexual selection.
It seems that, according to some “experts”, a convex nose is a “defect”.   But King Xerxes, of ancient Persia, would have been deeply offended to learn that his nose was anything but perfect.  Any plastic surgeon who dared recommend that he get his “nose done”, would himself have been done in through scaphism.

I wonder if those “experts” would have considered Sargon the Great’s nose to be defective as well.  Sargon would probably have had them impaled for saying such a thing – and rightfully so!

The Assyrians came from the far North of the Middle East, near the Caucasus Mountain area – which was far from arid.  Yet they too seemed to have no problem showing off their distinctive noses.  Here we have King Ashurnasirpal proudly displaying his for all the world to see:

The ancient Hittites were famous for their noses.  Even though they were counted among the seven cursed nations of Canaan, it is likely they contributed to Jewish ancestry enough to give Jews this reputation as well.  On behalf of my fellow Jews, who inherited this feature, I give thanks to the Hittites.  Alas!  I was left out of this legacy.

Ancient Egyptians  appreciated the hawkish nose of Pharaoh Ramses the Great so much that they took great pains to preserve it for eternity.  Anybody caught drawing unflattering caricatures of the pharaoh, as they do now with Ahmadinejad, might have found himself buried alive.

The Mayan Indians highly valued noses that modern plastic surgeons would have considered “defective”.  This is certainly a case of sexual selection.  It would not surprise me if those with deficient noses were selected for sacrifice to the gods.

The “Roman nose” is famous – and probably really does go back to the Romans.  The Romans actually had a name for those with a large, hooked nose: “nasones“.  Anybody who ridiculed it would probably have been crucified.

The Hapsburgs, inbred as they were, may have considered their prominent noses to be evidence of their royal Roman ancestry.

Even the British seem to have appreciated prominent noses.  Although English noses tend to be more modest, so many noteworthy Englishmen are shown in a manner that emphasizes their noses that it appears those who had it flaunted it.  I suspect that artists would even embellish it as flattery.

I think it is interesting that the peoples whose noses were generally concave, flat, small or pug were also the ones most likely to be subjugated by other peoples.  The Negroes and Slavs were both used as slaves while the Celts have spent the last 1,500 years in gradual retreat and struggle for survival.  As for the East Asians, they were too far away to be affected by this Western phenomenon.

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7 Responses to Rhinoplasty: a crime against nature

  1. Great Article. Here is more fodder:
    Iran for example, is a mixed race country, no different from India, where a whiter ruling class minority has traditionally held status over a darker majority. After the Shah was deposed, there was a significant purge and prosecution of the lighter peoples. (I do not have deep knowledge of how this was done, and it may not have been policy, except at the tactical level, since the religious sector came from the lower classes, and used lower class soldiers, so it may be somewhat analogous to the problem white men commonly found with black US sergeants and officers.)
    Self modification is partly popular because it is expensive and demonstrates that you have joined the market-participating (middle) classes. So, partly, this is about status seeking. ALthough it might be useful to note that people will not likely adopt asymmetric modifications (enlarged noses) in order to achieve status, they will appreciate local asymmetry if it is associated with greater status – such as nationalistic traits and therefore the fashionability of nose modification will drop even if the concept of smaller noses as more attractive doesn’t. In other words, the priority of these status symbols will invert.
    If it is any solace: people also adopt status signals based upon which culture has ‘power’. As the west declines in power, regional preferences become favored. (We see this in the returning preference for paternalism in china for example.) So STATUS properties are plastic and to some degree — they are a ‘fashion’.
    Conversely, there are certain properties of beauty that are universal, such as health, long legs, and hemispheric symmetry. It turns out that, “on the whole” people view large noses as asymmetric now that they have exposure to enough human variety to see them as a asymmetric. Therefore, regional “racial” symbols of attraction are subject to change because of exposure to a large number of different faces, with different status attributes.
    Think of it as part of ‘globalization’: symmetry across all human forms. Although from all cultures, there appears to be a universally attractive look, and this look is associated with being ‘white’ the truth is that it’s just the greatest symmetry that can be obtained in the human form as we currently undertand it. (This is an interesting area of research.) But it is not whiteness. It’s symmetry on the one hand and ‘feminine fineness’ over masculine mass that determines beauty (in women). So this tendency is a mathematical expression.
    It may be interesting to note that white women currently are attempting to develop african buttocks and east asian body weight distribution, rather than traditional fertility-driven ‘curviness”, so feature-envy it works both ways.
    It may also be interesting to note that ‘white’ skin color is a fashion, not an absolute. Skin clarity demonstrates health, and lighter appears to be more attractive than darker, no matter what race you’re in. But It appears we like ‘very light coffee colored’ as the ultimate symbol of health, because ‘very white’ that borders on translucent is also now associated with lack of skin plasticity (aging badly). So, we are ‘learning’ some things that are meaningful as well.
    The dirty secret that is politically and socially taboo to talk about is the relationship between median IQ and skin color WITHIN groups as well as without. (Smarter people in any group are likely to be lighter.) People who are larger (more grey matter such as east asians and whites) and people who have more white matter (like ashkenazim), make sense, but why these properties correlate (emphasis on correlation not causation) with skin color is not something that we are sure we understand.
    So, beauty is determined by a number of properties: International cultural power status. Local Economic Status, symmetry, femininity, healthiness, and “globalization” – exposure to greater choice.
    But if you want to herald large noses, i’m all for it. (Speaking as a small nosed Breton Celt – Dane mix.) It just requires people with large noses having enough military and political power. 🙂

  2. Smokedust says:

    “I don’t buy it. To me, it is obvious that some ancient peoples simply found large noses to be attractive and here we have a case of sexual selection.”
    Fascinating, I’d never thought of it that way. If this is stupid I apologize, but I’m being serious. I’ve talked about this with friends of mine before, it seems Jewish women tend to be top heavy. I’ve also noticed this of redheaded women (who are usually Irish, Scot or Jew) but they also tend to have more junk in the trunk whereas Jewish women are fairly flat assed. I’m honestly wondering if redheaded women with curves were simply more desirable to men than redheads who look like Kuchinch’s wife?
    The predictable answer might be that all guys like a nice rack and behind, but that simply isn’t true, and if it were, why dont more women have double C’s or D’s and a J-Lo-esque behind?
    I’ve read that Asians tend to be more petite due to body warmth or something like that, but could it be that Asian guys just like smaller women? What about blacks, is it that they have always had larger behinds because of the climate they evolved in, or have black men just always been more attracted to women with big butts, and that became the dominate trait? The brothers love “thick” white girls and many think it’s just a race thing, but maybe the brothers have just always like bigger girls, regardless of race.
    Sorry if that’s all mumbo jumbo.

  3. Matityahu says:

    I think it is sad when anybody surgically alters their body for fashion or aesthetic reasons, and I certainly prefer a woman with a distinctive shnozz to one with a widdled down nub. There may be many reasons given for the boom in rhinoplasty or breast implants but the root to me seems to be a lack of self respect and self awareness.

  4. fred says:

    I could see correcting a functional issue such as cleft palate or even braces. But I’m very conservative when it comes to cosmetic surgery. If one wishes to improve their appearance they should eat right and exercise. There are very few people who can’t make themselves presentable that way.

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